I thought I was late to the party, but after checking all the usual blog sites, nobody did a good job of explaining why the Kindle web app will be more successful than the native app. I’m rushing to post this, so it is fresh, so obviously there will be more stream of conscious thought than polished copy. Also, there was some explanation of motives, but I want to delve further…
What I’m talking about is that Amazon released an HTML5 site that allows you to sign in and read your kindle books. My initial reaction was, “don’t I have a kindle app on every device I own?” Then I thought about it for a minute… (Still Thinking….)… Did the answer hit you yet?
When you make something an app the only development you have to deal with is the limitations on the browser. As more people choose different mobile OSes, the more development it takes to make the app run efficiently. Also the more explaining Amazon has to do with the publishers (who already hate ebooks). Publishers want less devices that you can link to, and this now essentially the only secondary device (after the kindle). You can now uninstall all the native apps on your desktop, and stay straight in the browser (+1 for chromebooks). In fact this is the ‘chaimtime self dubbed official chromebook app.’
After another minute, another idea hit me…. Apple charges 30% for in app purchases. Amazon always removed users from the in app, to the mobile web where they weren’t taxed. Apple then added that apps cannot remove users to buy content. This is a problem for tech luddites, who don’t understand what is going on. These people do NOT want to leave the app (mainly for fear of not getting back). Since these people are collectively more than those who can think straight, this was going to cost Amazon a TON of money. The best way to fix it was to make a web app that people won’t know the difference.
Remember that Amazon used its wholesale model to keep books at the $9.99 price point they promised when they introduced the kindle. 4 years later, it had to concede to the publishers who were threatening to pull their content because of the price negotiation. Well, this is what happens when you do (Ars Technica, pops). You can read my displeasure here as well.
Another way of thinking about this is that Amazon was going to be sued by Lodsys for in app patent infringement, so they decided to show the world that you can do it without them. Hopefully there is no patent for purchasing things using ‘1-click’ technology (oh wait, Amazon has that one). Maybe amazon should patent buying from an in app HTML5 app. There is prior precedent that in app purchasing is “revolutionary” (thank you Lodsys).
That is what Amazon did. Try it out. Go to http://read.amazon.com (pops). After a brief (and I mean brief) tutorial, it looks identical to the native app. You wouldn’t know the difference. Try it, go to the site, then open up your kindle app. They look identical. They even have a mechanism to save a book that you want to download. Amazon did a really good job here.
Can you tell the difference?
Left is the web app, and the right is the kindle app. They look identical. Icons are slightly off, but it has the same functionality. The only negative (if it is a negative) is that the web app has all your books not just the current ones (see the difference between the two pictures).
I also want to throw up the picture of the store. Amazon did a good job of displaying the store. Remember a good window display means people come in. Didn’t Bloomingdales spend million(s) of dollars on their Christmas window display?
So why did I spend 450+ words telling this to you? Do you remember in iOS 1 days where the iphone wasn’t a smart phone? It had no apps because apple didn’t believe in apps. Apple wanted web apps, until they had to admit that native apps were necessary. HTML 5 wasn’t thought up yet, and developers were still trying to make functional mobile sites. Now with HTML 5 going strong this is one of the few sites that make me believe in the platform.
HTML5 created a platform that makes even chromebooks much more functional. If amazon can create a file system for its book using stored cache, I’m sure Angry Birds can find a way to save levels in a web app.